For the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ series, a case of diminishing returns

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This image provided by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Ezra Miller in a scene from “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets.” (Warner Bros. Images via AP)

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“Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets” got off to a less than magical start to its opening weekend in theaters in the United States and Canada. The third installment of the Harry Potter spinoff opened with $43 million in North America, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

It was enough to secure the film the top spot on the box office charts, but it’s also a low point for the franchise. The first film debuted to $74.4 million in 2016 and the second, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” opened to $62.2 million in 2018. “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” which Warner Bros. released at 4208 North American locations, it also has a gross of $200. million production price.

It’s more common for sequels and sequels to rank below their predecessors, but “Dumbledore” also follows several franchise titles that defied that logic, including “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Venom 2” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”

Most critics disagreed with “Dumbledore”. With a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, most ranked on the negative side. AP film writer Jake Coyle wrote in reviewing it that “the purpose of these films has never seemed much beyond keeping the Potter train going” and that this iteration is “a bit dull”. Audiences, which were 56% female, were a little more gracious, giving it four stars on PostTrak and a B+ on CinemaScore.

The eight Harry Potter films were responsible for more than $7.7 billion at the box office, while the first two “Fantastic Beasts” films grossed a total of $1.5 billion.

This installment stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller and Mads Mikkelsen, who replaced Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. In November 2020, following Depp’s failed libel case against The Sun tabloid for an article calling him a “wife beater,” the actor said Warner Bros. asked him to resign and he agreed.

However, as with the previous “Fantastic Beasts” movies, “Dumbledore” has more hope internationally. Its gross receipts are $193 million worldwide. The previous two films earned more than 70% of their global totals from international screenings.

“Regaining the original ‘Harry Potter’ magic that began in theaters some 20 years ago is a tall order,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “The ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise, while seeing diminishing returns with each successive installment, still has enough of a devoted fan base to evoke respectable numbers, particularly with international audiences that have always provided the lion’s share of the box office for these films.” .

Dergarabedian added that the real test for “Dumbledore” will be the second weekend.

Plus, as Jeff Goldstein, head of national distribution for Warner Bros., pointed out, movies are just one part of the wizarding world.

“It’s part of a larger strategy for Wizarding World, a larger business that includes theme parks, retail and merchandising. It’s about all of these pieces and not just one,” Goldstein said. “There’s still a lot of public interest and a lot of fan interest.”

Plus, Warner Bros. is celebrating a big milestone for another movie: “The Batman” passed $750 million worldwide this weekend.

“It’s a huge achievement,” Goldstein said.

In its second weekend, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” dropped 58% and earned an estimated $30 million to take second place, according to Paramount. The film has grossed $119.6 million to date. Third place also went to Paramount with the action-adventure film “The Lost City,” starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum.

Sony also released “Father Stu” in 2,705 locations on Wednesday. Starring Mark Wahlberg, who helped finance the film, “Father Stu” is based on a true story and is a rare mainstream Hollywood movie with religious themes. It earned an estimated $8 million in its first five days in theaters and $5.7 million over the weekend.

“Father Stu” took fifth place behind “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” A24’s stealth hit that keeps growing. This weekend, the animated interdimensional movie starring Michelle Yeoh played on 2,220 screens, its widest release yet, and earned an additional $6.2 million. His total gross is $17.7 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.

1. “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets,” $43 million.

2. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $30 million.

3. “The Lost City”, $6.5 million.

4. “Everything everywhere, everything at once”, $6.2 million.

5. “Father Stu,” $5.7 million.

6. “Morbius,” $4.7 million.

7. “Ambulance”, $4 million.

8. “The Batman,” $3.8 million.

9. “KGF: Chapter 2,” $2.9 million.

10. “Uncharted,” $1.2 million.

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Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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